Foresight, GIB investment in biomass CHP plant

By Green Investment Bank | August 02, 2013

Foresight Group and the UK Green Investment Bank plc have announced the investment of £20 million ($30.4 million) into the construction of the Evermore Renewable Energy 15.8 MW wood fueled combined-heat-and-power (CHP) station to be built on a 10-acre site in Derry/Londonderry at the Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners land at Lisahally, in Northern Ireland.

The Foresight managed fund, UK Waste Resources & Energy Fund, in which GIB is the cornerstone investor, has made the investment, which is the first GIB funded project in Northern Ireland.

Foresight has sourced co-investment from GCP Infrastructure Fund Ltd. and Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor A/S (BWSC) and worked alongside Investec Bank plc and Eksport Kredit Fonden in structuring and financing the project.

The Evermore project, which is expected to become operational during 2015, is forecast to be the largest renewable energy project in Northern Ireland, increasing the amount of renewable electricity currently generated in Northern Ireland by approximately 10 percent. 

Over the expected 20 year lifetime of the project, it is forecast to supply renewable electricity equivalent to the needs of more than 25,000 homes a year, create 200 construction jobs and more than 20 full time jobs once operational. Over the project life it is forecast to save 2 million metric of wood from going to landfill and is expected to deliver a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of around 3.7 million metric tons.

The electricity will be supplied to the national grid and the heat output will be used by an integrated wood drying facility, supplying fuel for new biomass boilers within Northern Ireland. The project will be fuelled by around 110,000 metric tons per annum of wood secured under a long-term fuel supply contract from Stobart Biomass. 

"Today's announcement will substantially increase Northern Ireland's renewable energy capacity.  Not only will the project save the same amount of carbon as taking around 77,000 cars off the road, it will also make use of over two million tonnes of wood, a valuable energy resource that would otherwise have gone to landfill,” said Shaun Kingsbury, chief executive of GIB. "Our mission is to crowd in private sector capital, so I'm especially pleased to see that every pound of GIB investment brought in more than £3 of private funding."

"The first deal done in Northern Ireland is a landmark moment for the UK Green Investment Bank and I'm confident that there will be more to come,” Business Secretary Vince Cable said. "Today's investment will have a significant green impact, reducing carbon emissions and diverting wood from landfill. It is also good news for the local area, creating jobs and building a stronger economy."

"The Foresight deal team has worked intensely over many months with Evermore, our financing partners, and the contractors and suppliers to structure and complete this landmark investment.  This is the second investment by the UKWREI Fund, in which the Green Investment Bank is the cornerstone investor,” said Andrew Page and Nigel Aitchison, Partners at Foresight Group. "This deal demonstrates that with the strong team we have built to work alongside the project developers, attractive renewable energy infrastructure investment opportunities can be structured and delivered by Foresight attractive to both banks and other institutional investors necessary to complete projects of this scale."

"We are making a serious commitment to the Northern Ireland energy market. Working with the best partners in technology, fuel supply and financing, we hope to show that Northern Ireland is a great place to do business so that further inward investment will follow,” said Ciaran and Stephen Devine, co-founders of Evermore."This is the culmination of many years of hard work to develop and finance the largest green energy power station in Northern Ireland. Our ability to attract this level of investment into Northern Ireland is testament to our team's commitment and skill in both project development and project financing. This now marks the start of the construction phase and with that the creation of over 200 much needed construction jobs in the North West".

"We're pleased to have been a part of this landmark transaction.  It's satisfying to reach this milestone after the intensive work put in.  As always, the project was delivered by a strong team, including our finance partner EKF, working with good project fundamentals.  We were ably assisted by various advisors including a Clifford Chance team led by Nathan Curtis.  We look forward to watching this project being delivered, and helping to realize future ventures in the sector,” said Adam Gordon of Investec Project and Infrastructure Finance, and Chris Mitman of Investec Export Finance.

"The Stobart Biomass division is seeing increased demand for its range of products across the UK and is pleased to be working with Evermore on this key development in Northern Ireland.  The ability of Stobart Biomass to provide long term sustainable solutions was seen as a key driver with the project funders.  We look forward to finalising other opportunities already in the pipeline in the next year,” said  Andrew Tinkler, CEO for Eddie Stobart.

"We welcome this development. The location of this project at our Foyle Port facility at Lisahally demonstrates our continued strategic delivery of regionally significant industrial projects,” said Londonderry Harbour Commissioners Chief Executive Brian McGrath.

"After four years of persistent efforts, we are very pleased to add this vital biomass project to our portfolio.  The financial crisis has led to increased demands for the soundness of projects, and we are proud that the new project lives up to today's financial requirements. The confidence in BWSC as a trustworthy partner, financially and technically strong, has been absolutely crucial for the project,” said Anders Heine Jensen, CEO of Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor A/S. "We are now looking forward to starting up construction of the plant which will ensure reliable and efficient electricity supply to approximately 25,000 households and businesses in the region".